It is always encouraging to be reminded of the good that can be done when we use our modern medical capabilities the right way.
Due to the rise in autism over the past few years, researcher Gary Steinman, MD, PhD, is attempting to do something about it. He has found that depressed levels of a protein called insulin-like growth factor (IGF) could potentially serve as a biomarker that could anticipate autism occurrence, meaning that blood tests from new-borns can indicate whether these levels are low and hence whether the child has a propensity for autism. He proposes that increasing levels of IGF can easily be done (mother’s or bovine milk) and will prevent the onset of this debilitating disease. He is suggesting that in future, we can test amniotic fluid for the same levels and supplement the baby in utero to prevent the onset of autism.
If future research were to confirm a connection between IGF and autism, Dr. Steinman recommends a new phase of research focused upon the detection of possibly depressed IGF levels in amniotic fluid during the second trimester of pregnancy. This might be followed by supplementation of the growth factor before symptoms of autism develop.